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Intermission: Witnessing a "Murmuration" Intermission: Witnessing a "Murmuration"

Intermission: Witnessing a "Murmuration"

by Wylie Overstreet

November 5, 2011

Two friends out in a canoe got to witness one of nature's more spectacular phenomena: a massive group of starlings (a "murmuration" for you Balderdash/Scrabble fiends) in fanciful flight above their heads.

Scientists aren't sure how flocking animals such as starlings and certain species of fish react in such amazing unison. As far as they can tell, the synchronization isn't based off a leader bird, but any individual's movement. Neighboring birds will take a cue, and the movement will ripple onward, creating the morphing shapes that grow and change in waves (rather than instantly across the flock). As for evolution's reason behind flocking behaviors, it comes down to strength in numbers: predators have a hard time focusing on an individual in a group of thousands. 

Happy Friday, everyone. 

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